Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist
Q: An eight-year-old constantly says some version of, “Nobody likes me. I’m no good. Nobody wants to play with me. I can’t do anything right.”
A:. First of all, arrange both your attitude and the physical environment of the therapy room so that he cannot do anything wrong. (This means it’s okay if something gets broken, and no judgment from you.) Even though you might really rather begin by teaching him alternative ways to think about himself, start by going with his process. Join him.
Q: A man has come in twice now and each time repeated the same story of his wife’s sexual indiscretion.
A: And how does that impact you right now?
Down at the tribal water hole one morning, a certain distracted caveman and his beloved grandmother were surprised by a saber-toothed tiger looking for his breakfast. The grandmother became a delicious first course and the caveman was confronted by the need to make a quick decision about what action he should take next. Now if the caveman had accessed his grief in those first few moments, it is possible he would have been too overcome to keep his body out of harm’s way. He too, might have become part of the tiger’s breakfast. Alternatively, if he had accessed his anger immediately, he might have attacked the still hungry tiger all by himself. This would have been a brave but probably foolhardy thing to do.
Q: I find it confusing to stay in the room with a particular client. His truth changes.
A: Make that a sentence about you, only.
Q: Sometimes I get frustrated trying to think of just the right gimmick that will work with this client.
A: Rather than trying to find a gimmick that will work to change him, keep in mind that whatever enactment, question, technique, interpretation, or therapeutic style you choose, the intervention itself is unimportant. Your task is to illuminate, then work with, his response. Use your frustration to assist you in intervening.
Q: He does not want to talk about the past. He wants only to concentrate on the present and on the future.
A: Remember that the past is represented in the present. How-he- was will be mirrored by how-he-is. Remember, in his mind, you are in an dramatization (a re-enactment) of one of his relationships just by being in the room.
Q: When a client says how great I am, sometimes part of me enjoys taking credit even though I know they are responsible for their own healing.
A: Of course; you’re a normal human. However when you claim as true, the things he likes about you, then it seems only fair that you claim as true, the things he does not. I suggest: instead of taking on anything someone else believes about you, take credit for what you actually do:
Q: Sometimes I’m scared when I’m with this person. It’s easy to succumb to that fear, then shut down and do minimal therapy. It’s hard to push forward.
A: And if you’re scared, assume there is danger. Of course, it’s most likely that the danger is coming from you, not from her.
Q: I keep having an agenda for people. Deep down I want them to get better. Say some stuff that will convince me to stop it.
A.: I find that amusing. You are asking me to do the very thing you think you shouldn’t do. There is nothing I or anyone can say that will change your inner should/want system until you are ready.
Q: What if someone wants to know how he is progressing?
A: If he simply wants your professional viewpoint, schedule an evaluation session. An evaluation session is not an ordinary therapeutic session, although it can be very therapeutic. It is a time for both of you to summarize resolved and unresolved issues, therapeutic goals, and your guesses as to the course the therapy will take if it continues.